Opening up Sheffield art studios to shine a light on creativity

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Scores of independent artists and craftspeople across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire are preparing to open their doors to the public over two weekends in the largest event of its kind outside London.

Visitors can see the work of 81 individual artists and six artists’ groups at their studios – in homes, former factories and offices and purpose-built complexes – as part of the 19th ‘Open Up’.

This year a record 13 new artists are taking part, encouraged by the event’s organisers charging them a reduced fee.

The annual showcase, which has free admission, has grown steadily over the years.

The latest is being held this weekend over the Bank Holiday - Saturday to Monday - and then next weekend, May 6 and 7.

Most of the studios are in Sheffield, although the map stretches to Barnsley and Bamford, opening up opportunities to meet and talk to artists working in a wide range of forms.

They include watercolour, oil and acrylic paints, jewellery, ceramics, textiles, wood, glass, photography, print and mixed media.

‘Open Up’ director Annette Petch, who specialises in handmade gold and silver jewellery at the Manor Oaks Studios, off Manor Lane, said: “This is the largest event of its kind outside London, which reflects the Sheffield area having the largest number of artists studios outside London.

“It’s a great opportunity for the public to interact with artists - to see how they make their living, to watch demonstrations and to ask questions.

“For the artists, it gives them motivation to produce new work, to get feedback and to sell their work.”

Annette added: “This year we hope that as well as the public visiting their favourites, they will seek out some artists they have not seen before, especially the 13 who are participating for the first time.”

Among the larger venues taking part are Exchange Place Studios, the Art Deco former transport offices behind the old Castle Market site, now occupied by the Yorkshire Artspace studios network, which also operates Manor Oaks.

There will be workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and a pop-up shop from 11am to 5pm on all days across the two weekends at Exchange Place, where 21 artists are planning to get involved in the creative happenings.

The Art House, on Backfields off West Street, also has a key role to play.

It will be open from 11am to 4pm on each of the dates, with planned activities including guided tours of the facilities and live demonstrations.

Exhibitions from the Art House’s tutors, local artists and potters are taking place too, and the café is open on Saturdays.

Elsewhere, at Butcher Works on Arundel Street, the All Good Stuff shop and gallery will have work by four artists on show - Sarah Coleman, who works in oils and mixed media, Ruth Gilbert, a textile historian and weaver, Hazel Hampshire, who makes polymer clay jewellery and Zoe Barber, a specialist in silver and mixed-metal jewellery.

All Good Stuff is a not-for-profit community interest company that aims to promote the work of artists and makers in Sheffield and across the region.

And across the city centre, the Kelham Island Arts Collective are hosting ‘working studios’ and a life-drawing exhibition in the Gage Gallery at their base at Lion Works on Ball Street.

‘Open Up’ is run on a voluntary basis by artists, for artists. A brochure listing all of the openings has been printed and is also available on the website - visit http://openupsheffield.co.uk to download a copy.